How to Spot Counterfeit Money
by Limus Woods
The U.S. Secret Service advises that if you receive a forged bill you shouldn’t return it to the passer-try and delay them if possible. If not, have a good description of them, and try and get their license plate number. Then, write your initials and the date on the white border of the bill, put it in an envelope, and call the local police or a U.S. Secret Service field office. They advise when looking at a bill, you can tell if it is fake by paying attention to the paper, the portrait, the watermark, the security thread, and the serial numbers.
If you can’t spot phony money on sight, don’t worry you are not alone. For all of us who are not experts, there are lots of equipment out there to help you distinguish. The money detection marker (used in places with a lot of quick transactions, like a fast food restaurant) is easy to use. You simply mark the bill, and if it’s a clear, yellowish mark, the money is real. If the mark is black or dark, it’s counterfeit. These pens cost around $10.00.
Counterfeit detection systems have incandescent lamps to find watermarks easily. A feature called the magnetic ink character recognition (MICR) unit chirps and lights up when real bills go over the sensor. These machines (found a lot in gas stations and other busy businesses like them) cost close to $40.00.
Bill counters with counterfeit detection (found mostly in banks) have immediate banknote verification and automatic loading functions. These cost around $330.00.
Counterfeiting is one of the world’s first-born unlawful acts, having been around since the invention of money itself. A popular way to create bogus money is to bleach a $5 bill, then print a different bill with a higher amount on it (like a $50 or $100). The U.S. $20, though, is the most commonly counterfeited bill in the world.
The manufacturing or possession of counterfeit U.S. currency is punishable by fine and/or 15 years in prison. Printed reproductions (like photographs of currency) are equally punishable. Forging or trafficking checks or bonds can get you 10 years, and reproducing coins is punishable by fine, 5 years in prison, or both.
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- Detailed Guide to Counterfeit Detection. ABC Office. Web. http://www.abcoffice.com/counterfeit-bill-detection-guide.htm
- Know Your Money. Secret Service. Web. http://www.secretservice.gov/data/KnowYourMoneyApril08.pdf